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by Anna Merod February 12, 2018 at 11:45 am 0

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Todd Moore spends three to five hours a day listening to podcasts.

“I’ve never really been happy with the existing podcast apps,” he said.

That’s where the idea for Playapod, a cross-platform syncing podcast app, came in. The app, created by Moore through the Crystal City-based TMSOFT, best known for its white noise app, is compatible with all Android and iOS devices and is available to download from the Google Play Store, Apple App Store and the Amazon App store. The app launched last week.

One podcast-playing problem that bothered Moore was the inability to sync podcasts across different devices from different platforms. Another issue was the difficulty of relocating where someone left off listening to a podcast.

“Something that frustrates me with all audio playback app, like even Amazon’s audio books, they never show you what you’ve listened to,” he said.

That made it easy to lose place in a podcast if, for example, the user accidentally touch the wrong button. On Playapod, users can see exactly where they left off if they lose their place through the precision progress bar. Users can also bookmark the most-recently played portion of a podcast for future playback, said Moore.

Playapod is free and has no advertisements. Another feature includes the ability to download podcasts so users can listen offline.

“I think the interface of Playapod is very simple, and it’s intuitive and it’s easy to navigate,” Moore said. “So I think it’s going to be a real hit based on the initial feedback I’m seeing.”

Playapod may have some big shoes to fill against its competitors at Apple and Amazon, but Moore said he’s not concerned.

“I think if people try Playapod, they’re going to see a better feature set. I think they’re going to enjoy this type of listening experience, and I’ve spent a year on this, so I’m a little biased,” he said.

by Anna Merod February 5, 2018 at 11:45 am 0

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Fret Zealot is a game changer when it comes to learning how to play the guitar, said Shaun Masavage, CEO of Fret Zealot.

The technology is a LED light script that can be installed on any full-sized electric or acoustic guitar. The light script is accompanied with an app that teaches people how to play different chords and songs by indicating which strings to play via the lights. The LED light script is also accompanied with a small rechargeable battery pack that can last up to 12 hours.

To install the Fret Zealot, the strings must be pulled aside to place the lights on the fret board.

Masavage said he was inspired to create Fret Zealot after learning how many people give up learning to play the guitar.

“The statistic now is that 90 percent of people stop learning guitar, and it’s just like why? Normally it’s barriers to entry, so we designed Fret Zealot to take away all of those barriers to entry,” Masavage said.

The Arlington-based startup in Crystal City has been in development for five years, and shipped its first orders of Fret Zealot in December and has sold 3,000 so far. The product has also reached a global scale, selling to more than 40 different countries.

Before the technology became accessible to the public, Fret Zealot launched a Kickstarter campaign that raised nearly $250,000 within a month. Just recently the cost of the LED lights dropped making it possible to sell Fret Zealot for a more affordable price at $200.

“[This] is our year,” Masavage said. The company has been in talks with major guitar manufacturers and several retailers, he said.

Fret Zealot will also be expanding to different instruments. In the spring, a bass version will be released and a ukulele version will come out later in the summer.

The app has a tuner and currently 100 songs for anyone to play. In a few weeks, it will be able to listen to the user, so when playing songs the app will go at the user’s pace — not showing the next note until the user has played it. Soon users will also be able to upload any song they want to the app so long as it passes the app’s quality standards.

Several music teachers have reached out to the company, wanting to build their own courses using Fret Zealot, said John Tolly, chief technology officer of Fret Zealot.

“[We are] not even replacing teachers, we’re adding to them. They can have students learn proper notes and chords, and then they can concentrate on helping with technique,” Masavage said.

For Masavage it’s been very satisfying seeing people from beginners to retirees use Fret Zealot.

“It’s very fulfilling, because you see people at all levels light up when they use the product,” he said.

Photos Courtesy Shaun Masavage

by Chris Teale January 29, 2018 at 11:45 am 0

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

A Crystal City-based manufacturer of so-called “super coffee” looks set to appear on the popular ABC television show “Shark Tank.”

Sunniva, founded in 2015 by brothers Jordan, Jake and Jimmy DeCicco, appears to be set to appear on the show where entrepreneurs seek the investments of four millionaires, on Sunday, February 11.

In a preview of the show, ABC says viewers can expect to hear from “a trio of brothers from Arlington, Virginia,” who, “present their all-natural super beverage.”

The three brothers auditioned for “Shark Tank” last year. In an audition video posted to YouTube, Jordan DeCicco said Sunniva is looking for a $400,000 investment from the “Sharks” in return for a 5 percent stake in the company. It’s unclear if that is the amount the brothers will actually be seeking on the show.

“As college student-athletes, we were tired,” Jake DeCicco said in the video. “We were falling asleep in class after practice. Our school stores offered the usual unhealthy coffees and energy drinks. But we refused to put that garbage into our bodies.”

The drink combines Colombian coffee, coconut oil, and a lactose-free milk protein is a low-fat, low-cal beverage that the DeCiccos said offers a longer-term energy boost compared to other products that often provide an energy spike and a crash later. Each bottle has 90mg of caffeine, which is pretty standard for an 8 oz. cup of coffee.

Jake DeCicco first started making and selling the drink from his dorm room at Philadelphia University, and then enlisted the help of his older brother Jordan, who was at business school at Georgetown University. Oldest brother Jim is the CEO, while Jake is listed as COO.

“Now, we’ve come a long way from our little brother’s dorm room, but we’re just getting started,” Jim DeCicco said in the audition video. “Sharks, as athletes, we need a coach to help us refine our business fundamentals and share our super coffee with the world.”

by Anna Merod January 22, 2018 at 11:45 am 0

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

A new app hopes to create a seamless way for users to plan a travel itinerary and keep track of all their travel documents, including visa information, in one place.

Local company Visajump hopes to take away the stress and worry travelers have when trying to keep up with documentation and the bureaucratic processes of traveling.

While the app is still in development, its co-founders, Craig Chavis and Wendy Truong, have been in touch with more than 20 embassies.

Many have agreed to keep a continuing relationship with Visajump so users will be able to receive live updates regarding travel alerts and visa information, Chavis said. In turn, he added, users can also provide live updates from the ground.

“Every passport has a unique, different situation, so changes occur all the time, and so having those relationships with the embassies we’re able to stay ahead of the game,” Chavis said.

Currently, Chavis and Truong are testing out the visa database feature in the first version, Chavis said. This includes going beyond the questions — do users care about immunizations? How long does it take to get a visa? How much will it cost?

“You know basically we’re figuring out how the travelers think, how they do their planning process from the beginning to the end,” Chavis said. “And so we’re gauging those different responses, because you know every traveler is different.”

The vision behind Visajump came out of Chavis and Truong’s passion for travel. Chavis had recently travelled abroad for three years and Truong had travelled for 19 years.

When Chavis was abroad he met other travelers who had issues obtaining their visas, keeping track of travel plans and staying organized. So once he returned to the U.S. and met Truong at Startup Week D.C. the two wanted to solve this solution on a global scale.

Truong added that once the U.S. passports are established in the app, the two want to start working on other passport user cases.

As a Vietnamese woman, Truong said she always needed a visa during her 19 years abroad. In fact, Truong believes the market for the app lies within developing countries.

“In turn, yes there’s a lot of U.S. travelers going abroad but not a lot of them require visas,” she said. “Whereas people from developing countries, they actually are traveling more cause there is a middle class rising from those markets and you know for them to go anywhere they require visas.”

Overall, it is the two founders’ avid passion for travel that has driven the app forward since its inception four months ago. The company has several investors and it meets with them weekly.

Next up, Chavis and Truong plan to enter into the Airport Innovation Challenge, a program that it said will “activate the startup community and identify innovations that will transform the passenger journey.”

by Chris Teale January 8, 2018 at 11:45 am 0

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

A phone application that launched last year is already helping more than 500 people in and around Arlington to go to and host private events.

Festi launched for Beta testing in May 2017, and is available on both iOS and Android. It allows people to host private events like yoga lessons or tell anyone nearby that they are selling homemade cookies. Hosts can then charge an admission fee through the app, and accept or reject anyone who signs up to come.

Anyone with a profile can follow their friends’ activity, like social media, and sign up for an event that interests them. Like ride-hailing apps Uber and Lyft, they can store credit card information for a quick-pay option, while events are also on offer for free.

Founder Rita Ting-Hopper, a Clarendon resident, said that it goes further than existing software like Meetup, which is for more public events attended by many people, rather than smaller gatherings.

“We’re talking about having a poker night at your house or baking cookies or a private dinner or a rooftop happy hour with just a few people,” she said. “I think the concept of Meetup is more for public and larger groups, and this is more personal.”

And included in the app is a feature to allow guests to communicate privately with the event’s host, putting the onus on them to swap contact details at events if they wish to stay in touch afterwards.

“This is a unique feature because there’s lots of people you don’t have contact information for, their emails or whatnot, and you may not want their contact information and don’t want other people having your contact information,” Ting-Hopper said. “For the purpose of this event, you can message each other, but once the event is over everything disappears like Snapchat. If you really like each other, you have to exchange contact information or hope for the next event.”

The idea for this app came from Ting-Hopper’s personal experience running an event through her church. A commercial litigation lawyer by trade, she found it to be an awkward experience when asking people to donate money to help pay for the events she hosted and wanted to find a better way.

“We belong to a church here, and I host a young professionals event at my house, at which we order pizza and cater food and people hang out for a happy hour,” Ting-Hopper said. “I had a money jar for people to donate for the cost of food, and it was a pain, because people like to ignore the money jar when they come in. And then it’s really awkward.”

The next step in the app’s development is marketing it to a wider audience, something Ting-Hopper said she will start by using interns from local colleges including George Washington and George Mason Universities.

With a target audience of people aged in their 20s and 30s, she said they are the perfect people to help her refine and promote her product.

“What better than to ask my target what they like, what they want, what works and what their friends and people will do?” Ting-Hopper said.

And Ting-Hopper said that she hopes Festi takes hold in Arlington and the D.C. area, and perhaps is not so concerned about expanding it into other regions.

“It’s intentional that it’s grassroots in this area,” she said. “I really want to grow it and test it out here. I’d be happier having 500 users that are active rather than 50,000 users with only 100 active. The goal is to really promote community, so if that’s the intention I’d rather just have it in one community that works rather than in 50 communities that works half the time.”

Images via Festi

by Chris Teale December 18, 2017 at 11:45 am 0

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

A former special education teacher now helps people improve their lifestyles by exploring their diets and other factors to see where changes need to be made.

Founded in September, Clarendon-based WholesOMe Health offers health coaching and yoga to individuals and small groups. Founder Lindsey Goldwasser said she looks at someone’s stress levels, emotions and factors like their relationships and finances and how that affects the food they eat.

“We usually go through a health history, and we look through your day-to-day, the food that you eat but we also look at your day-to-day schedule and if there’s certain stressors,” she said. “Usually as we’re talking there are certain things that are very obvious that come up. I think it’s also really letting the other person talk and share what they’re going through and their experiences, and it’s relating and I think often the body has the opportunity to heal itself if we just give it a chance to.”

Goldwasser said the link between stress or poor health and the food we eat is crucial, and can be easy to fix. She gave the example of someone being unhappy in their job, so going to happy hour each evening after work, then eating chicken fingers and fries for dinner as they make “poor food decisions.”

Then, she said, that poor diet can result in a bad night’s sleep, which means starting the next day on the wrong foot. Her health coaching would explore how those factors link together and help solve them.

“Maybe instead of happy hour five days a week, you might go three days a week,” Goldwasser said. “And then you’ll notice if you start feeling better, maybe it’s less and less and you find other things that make you happy instead of doing that after work every day. From that place, when you’re happy on the inside, you’re happy on the outside. It’s like a by-product of being happy, and the food you eat falls more into place.”

Goldwasser said her background as a special education teacher in Fairfax County has set her up perfectly for this new venture, especially given some of the skills she learned in the classroom.

“I think being an active listener is so important, and I think when I was a teacher I was a huge believer in letting children guide how they wanted to be taught and learning from them as much as they learn from us,” she said. “I think active listening was huge, and being really open. Open to working out why and going back to the drawing board and trying it another way.”

And although her company is still in its early stages, Goldwasser put on a program for the holidays with new information released each week. It began the Monday after Thanksgiving (November 27), and has included sessions on the importance of water and energy, as well as why emotional eating is a bad thing.

She then explored colorful foods and meal planning, then a final session focused on planning for a healthy 2018. It is all building towards what Goldwasser hopes will be a productive year for WholesOMe Health.

“I just want to continue to do more individual and group programs, so I’m planning my 2018 now and continuing to build my list and build awareness, because I think there’s so much to be learned about the food we choose for ourselves and for our children, and finding peace with whatever we decide,” she said.

Photos via Facebook

by Chris Teale December 4, 2017 at 11:45 am 0

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Just in time for the holiday party season, a catering startup has launched an online marketplace for business customers to order its food.

HUNGRY, which launched last year, opened its online ordering system earlier this month.

Customers can now log on to its website, fill in details on the number of people they expect to cater for, a delivery date and time and their zip code. HUNGRY then works to provide personalized choices, including different cuisine types and showing the chef who would prepare them.

The website also shows the average price per person for the locally-prepared dishes, and gives a sample menu.

“We partner with incredible local chefs that prepare amazing variety across all types of cuisines and affordable prices, making HUNGRY’s model the future of office-centered catering,” Shy Pahlevani, HUNGRY president, said in a statement. “The new marketplace makes online ordering a simple three-step process as our proprietary Smart Catering Engine recommends the ideal menu for your team based on your ordering preferences. This technology enables the consumer to feel more connected to their unique meal experience as they learn more about the chef that made their meal.”

Food options include seasonally-inspired salads and custom burger stations to modern takes on classic sandwiches and ethnic dishes. The marketplace also remembers past orders and interests, and factors those into its options for returning customers.

HUNGRY works with more than 50 chefs, who are provided kitchen space and marketed to interested customers, with the company taking care of delivery and logistics.

Earlier this year, it added four new D.C. area chefs to its stable, including Patrice Olivon, a former White House chef and Adam Greenberg of the Coconut Club and a “Chopped” champion on the Food Network.

“HUNGRY’s new marketplace provides access to more than 50 top-notch local chefs, giving our clients even more variety and authentic options to choose from,” Eman Pahlevani, HUNGRY founder, said in a statement. “Our growing chef network includes James Beard Award nominated chefs, former Iron Chef and Chopped champions, and even a former White House chef. The marketplace will be a catalyst for connecting these renowned chefs in our area and businesses together in a way like never before.”

Images via HUNGRY

by Chris Teale November 27, 2017 at 11:45 am 0

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

A student at Swanson Middle School launched a business earlier this year where young people can be hired to help residents with various simple chores.

Charlotte Cunningham, 13, launched Youth Neighborhood Care in May. So far, she is the only young person available for chores, from 3:30-6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and by appointment at the weekends.

It currently operates in the Tara-Leeway Heights neighborhood, but Cunningham said she hopes to expand in the New Year to hire more youths and maybe go into more neighborhoods.

“I definitely want to go to the civic association meetings and talk about the power of youth and get that out there to tell people how youth are so critical to things and their capabilities,” Cunningham said. “I want to maybe create a podcast or something like that to get awareness out as much as I can, and that’s towards the end of the year. Then when I pick up again in the new year, I’m going to try to start getting more youth involved.”

Services provided to residents, for a fee, include babysitting, dog-walking, performing outside chores like raking leaves and running local errands. And Cunningham said that not only will hiring youth make a positive impact on the community, it will benefit residents who hire them.

“I’m really trying to show people that instead of hiring company after company, you can hire youth and they can get the job done more efficiently,” Cunningham said.

YNC got its business license earlier this year, and Cunningham participated in the Arlington Chamber of Commerce’s Young Entrepreneurs Academy to develop her business plan, pitch to investors and launch the company.

She said she also enjoyed the networking aspect of YEA! — meeting other local small business owners and learning more about something she had aspired to do for a while.

“I’ve always wanted to run a business or do something like that,” Cunningham said. “When I found out about the program, I was very excited. I knew this was it, that this was going to help me make my dream come true. I’ve always wanted to start a business, and at least run something. That really helped me out.”

And while it might appear to be challenging to balance running her own business with the demands of going to school full-time, Cunningham said she is doing fine and is confident she can handle the coming expansion.

“It’s manageable, because I’m not working with any products. I’m not communicating with any manufacturers, so it’s just me communicating with people,” she said. “What I do is I come home from school, I check my emails and then towards the weekends or days off I do stuff that I wouldn’t have time to do during the day. It’s actually fairly manageable, but some days it can get tough. But that’s just business.”

Courtesy photo

by Chris Teale November 20, 2017 at 11:45 am 0

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

A startup that looks to help companies protect customers’ personal data just received $3.1 million in new funding at a crucial time for the data protection industry.

Clarendon-based WireWheel was founded in December 2016 by Justin Antonipillai, the former Acting Undersecretary of Economic Affairs at the U.S. Department of Commerce under President Barack Obama, alongside University of Maryland Computer Science professor Amol Deshpande and former NASA rocket scientist Chris Getner.

The trio founded the company to help businesses comply with new regulations around data protection that come into effect next year.

Its software, called the “Data Privacy and Protection platform,” helps businesses both in the United States and Europe keep track of customer data that has been collected, where it is stored and who or what has access to it.

“It’s not only the specific information you’ve given the company, because most companies are logging every interaction you have with them, often tied to where you were when that interaction took place, there’s crazy insights that people can get from that kind of data about you,” Antonipillai said. “What I’m really seeing is companies trying to do the right thing, and makes sure they can prove they’re doing the right thing, and that’s where we come in.”

WireWheel received its seed funding, early-stage investments in return for a stake in the business, from venture capital firms PSP Chicago and New Enterprise Associates. Antonipillai said that money will be used primarily to hire new software developers and engineers and to invest in improving the software which will be rolled out for a wider Beta test in January.

And from the investment firms’ point of view, the timing is perfect to invest in companies that help protect customers’ data, especially after high-profile breaches like that at the Equifax credit bureau.

“Now, more than ever, it is imperative that companies and governments build trust and show that they are taking care of their customer’s personal data,” Penny Pritzker, founder and Chairman of PSP Capital, said in a statement. “The WireWheel team brings tremendous expertise in understanding the regulatory maze, advanced technologies and business needs surrounding data privacy.”

In May, the General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect for companies that do business in Europe, which includes multi-national corporations based in the United States. Described as “one of the biggest changes to data privacy and data protection regulation in 20 years,” it imposes significant privacy requirements on companies.

Antonipillai said the GDPR and the European Union’s renewed focus on data privacy means WireWheel fills a vital need for companies on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

“In Europe, privacy is a fundamental right and it imbues a lot of parts of society,” he said. “If companies aren’t in a position to demonstrate that they’re doing the right thing with that information, and that they know where it is, what it is and who or what has access to it, you can’t do business on the world stage.”

Already, Antonipillai said WireWheel has worked with several multi-national companies in the software’s early stages, and has been developing its platform with their help.

He echoed comments from the likes of Ballston-based cybersecurity firm BluVector, which said previously it is part of an unofficial “cyber corridor” in Arlington, and said that as the software evolves, it will be easy to scale for more companies to use.

“We know that if we solve their problems, we’ll solve them in a way that is going to solve a lot of companies’ problems,” Antonipillai said. “Given the scope of the problem, there are European laws and there are US laws that have to be complied with. Companies are trying really hard to get up to speed on that, so I think we have a pretty good path to scale once we really get the platform out.”

by Chris Teale November 13, 2017 at 11:45 am 0

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Two-and-a-half years after its founding, the owner of a company that works with expecting and new mothers on health and wellbeing is looking to expand.

Ballston-Virginia Square resident Chris Bhutta founded WellMom in 2014. It offers personal training and yoga sessions in clients’ homes, as well as training for small groups in a gym. Buhtta said it is key to build women’s core and back muscles, as those are the ones that can be the most damaged by giving birth.

“Core strength is really important, particularly for women,” she said. “Their core is completely destroyed during pregnancy through labor and delivery. Your stomach is expanding, so your abdominal muscles are really weakened, your pelvic floor is really weakened from the weight of the uterus and also if you have a vaginal delivery there’s more trauma to your pelvic floor.” 

In addition to the fitness classes, Bhutta offers nutrition guidance and coaching to help women eat properly during pregnancy. As well as in-person coaching, Bhutta began offering distance coaching in nutrition, giving out easy-to-prepare recipes and shopping lists of ingredients to keep things simple.

“A lot of these women, they know exactly what they need to be doing, but it’s just hard with all the competing demands on their time to implement and to follow through,” she said. “For them, they wanted someone to make this as easy for them as possible.”

That distance coaching in nutrition is part of Bhutta’s plan to expand her services gradually, including having more of an online presence and maybe even moving towards having a brick-and-mortar store in the long-term.

“I want it to be not huge right now,” she said. “I have two small children, aged 5 and 2, so I still want to be a little bit less than full-time right now. I’m about 20 hours a week right now, maybe going up a little closer to 30 hours a week and growing the nutrition piece in particular and maybe a couple more classes and a couple more clients.”

Bhutta said WellMom has already come a long way from its early days, when she offered free yoga classes in parks and training classes for the various mothers’ groups in North Arlington, then added customers through word of mouth and referrals from existing clients.

She said that after taking care of herself well during both pregnancies, and having qualified as a personal trainer after deciding against going into academia and teaching, she wanted to share the wisdom she picked up.

“I had a really positive pregnancy experience, labor and delivery and a good recovery,” Bhutta said. “I believe my lifestyle played a role in that, it’s obviously not the only thing, but it’s an important piece. So that experience made me want to share that with other women.”

Photos via Facebook

by Chris Teale November 6, 2017 at 12:00 pm 0

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

A one-woman clothing company based in Cherrydale is combining social media with traditional store sales for her collection of locally-themed shirts.

Lisa McLaughlin founded District Line Co. Clothing in 2014. Based out of her home office, she makes locally-themed shirts, highlighting the neighborhoods and landmarks.

It started with an Arlington-themed but has since expanded to include the likes of Falls Church, Alexandria and D.C., which is an artist’s sketch of the skyline and monuments.

“It really captures the things that you love about living in one of those cities,” McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin started District Line Co. Clothing after working for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and studying Security Policy as a postgraduate at George Washington University.

But she said she had issues getting a job after graduating due to uncertainty surrounding federal budgets preventing new hires being brought on, as well as spending a long time on a waiting list to be given a start date. In the meantime, she had the idea to do something else.

“I had this creative itch to do something pretty different from having a keycard to get into my building and not really talking much about the work to being really public and having a really interactive business with the public,” McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin said the company has gained momentum through social media, especially through the hashtag campaign “#ThisIsMyLocal” on Instagram.

The campaign started with a tag on each shirt encouraging people to post selfies and use the hashtag, showing what McLaughlin described as “the larger D.C. area’s local experience.” In time, McLaughlin said, she hopes to see a lot of photos of her shirts being worn in various local businesses with the hashtag.

McLaughlin said the campaign was especially popular this summer, as people posted selfies wearing the company’s running tank top with the words “Home is Where the Humidity Is.”

And this holiday season, District Line Co. Clothing will look to encourage people to buy matching shirts for their family, and post a photo of them all wearing them with the hashtag “#ThisIsMyLocalFamily.”

“That’ll be our holiday campaign hashtag, and we’re hoping it’ll encourage people to buy a couple of shirts that match and take some fun pictures and tell us about their families and their local experience,” McLaughlin said.

That use of social media combined with sales in traditional brick-and-mortar stores has helped District Line Co. Clothing get customer feedback, and their ideas for designs. McLaughlin said she will look to take on new ideas for a new Arlington shirt for next year, and may also do the same for another running-themed one.

“I see people all the time who are like, ‘I have that shirt! Someone else has that and we had a conversation,'” she said. “That’s what I want this company to be, a recognition of something that you’re wearing saying something about you and creating a real in-person connection.”

McLaughlin said the company has doubled its revenue every year since launch, and is on track to do even better this year. But, she said, given the limited space she has available to work in, further expansion is unlikely, especially as there are still plenty of potential customers in Northern Virginia and D.C. she has not reached yet.

“I think we’ll continue to focus on the area that we’re in. I used to think we’d expand and expand and do Loudoun County and we’d have a Richmond shirt and all that,” McLaughlin said. “But I actually think there’s a lot of people we haven’t reached here, and a lot of really interesting creative work we can do.”

Photos via Facebook

by Chris Teale October 30, 2017 at 12:30 pm 0

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

A Crystal City-based software startup that received an economic development grant from the Arlington County Board earlier this year has raised $6 million from investors.

Stardog Union, which moved to 1400 Crystal Drive last September, took on funding from venture capital firm Grotech Ventures, as well as existing investors Core Capital and Boulder Ventures. All three invest in software and technology companies.

The injection of cash came from the company’s Series A funding round, the first time startups receive investments from venture capital firms and the first time ownership is offered to those external investors.

Since raising its seed round of early investments in July 2016, Stardog has more than tripled its revenue and secured many recognizable companies as customers. That includes the likes of NASA, Oxford University Press and Bosch.

Stardog Union helps businesses bring together internal data from different sources. At the time of its county grant, CEO and co-founder Kendall Clark told ARLnow that while that process could take a large company like Samsung a week and use 30 people to collate all the data on, Stardog’s technology does the job in a matter of seconds.

“Stardog is uniquely solving the largest unsolved problem in enterprise IT: data silos,” said Steve Fredrick, general partner at Grotech Ventures, in a statement. “They’ve generated substantial traction including some truly amazing logos despite having raised very little capital and having done no marketing to date.”

Stardog received a Gazelle Grant earlier this year a Gazelle Grant, an incentive program from Arlington Economic Development to encourage fast-growing companies to locate in the county. It received $35,000 in return for creating 70 new full-time jobs at its Arlington office and leasing 3,500 square feet of office space.

“We had an incredible year of growth and are excited to have Grotech as a new partner to accelerate further,” Clark said in a statement. As part of the investment, Fredrick has joined Stardog’s board of directors.

by Chris Teale October 23, 2017 at 12:30 pm 0

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

An Arlington County-based company is at the forefront of strengthening wireless networks amid exploding demand, and experiencing rapid growth of its own.

Federated Wireless works to provide more spectrum for mobile networks for businesses and ordinary citizens, which allows devices to connect to the internet and communicate with each other.

Founded five years ago, the company just took on $42 million in new funding, including from telecommunications companies. Federated Wireless is set to move to a new office across from the redeveloping Ballston Quarter mall on Wilson Blvd and hire more engineers and developers. It also has smaller offices in Boston and Silicon Valley.

Federated Wireless is working to make the new airwaves available for more uses while ensuring they do not interfere with each other. That includes for businesses like grocery stores, who want to automate cash registers and need to use a network to do that, as well as for factories, delivery and logistics companies and the like. It is also designed to improve service indoors, and responds to where the needs are greatest.

As more and more look to use high-speed networks, they experience slow-downs, and that will only get worse, the company said, as usage is set to triple by 2021.

The Federal Communications Commission in 2015 allowed some of the airwaves to be for public and private use through its “Citizens’ Broadband Radio Service” initiative, which makes airwaves not being used by the U.S. Navy for flight operations and satellites open for public consumption.

“We find out who you are, what hotspot you’re going to turn on, we track you in terms of your use and need and we track all the airwaves around you and we basically run an inventory system 24 hours a day and make it available,” Federated Wireless CEO Iyad Tarazi said. “Instead of making it rigid, ‘If I’m going to use it, I have to have it in the entire city or I won’t get started.’ It’s very much a sharing model.”

Tarazi said Federated Wireless leads the way on researching how to make the spectrum more widely available in part because of the research institutions and government agencies located in and around Arlington.

For years, such usage was reserved mostly for the military, but with partners like Virginia Tech’s local campus and research being done by the likes of the National Science Foundation and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Tarazi said Arlington leads the way.

“For this field, it’s No. 1, primarily because DARPA’s research is here, NSF’s research is here, Virginia Tech’s research is here,” he said. “We believe Arlington can be, this is maybe a little corny, ‘Spectrum Valley.’ Maybe that’s the term we start propagating, because we’re trying to make sure we develop as much spectrum research here, because it is the future.”

The industry is continually evolving, with the likes of Google also involved in trying to take advantage of the new airwaves for its own products. With more than 80 companies as partners in an alliance researching the subject, including cable companies like Comcast and Verizon, chip makers like Intel and equipment makers like Nokia, Tarazi said things continue at a fast pace.

And Tarazi said the new office comes at the perfect time, as more and more people and businesses want to connect to mobile networks every day. The technology was first widely used by the military, but has since expanded to all areas of life.

“Ultimately we need more airwaves, because when you’re mobile you can’t use wires,” he said. “You need to be able to allocate airwaves to the application whenever it needs it. A lot of the technology around that is what we’re doing. When you go into war, you need to be able to manage drones, you need to be able to manage mechanization, you need to communicate, so that’s why you need to be very intense, careful and efficient in how you use your airwaves.”

Photos via Federated Wireless

by Chris Teale October 16, 2017 at 12:00 pm 0

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

The roofs of D.C. taxis could be set for electronic advertising that can update in real time or be targeted to specific areas thanks to a new startup based in Rosslyn.

Above and Beyond Media Group launched October 1 after a year of planning and writing its software. It uses double-sided LED screens on taxi roofs to get advertisers’ messages out. And Arlington County residents might be familiar with them already, as ABMG sent prototypes out and about during the spring and summer to test the technology.

“It’s kind of a breakaway from the traditional paper and plastic that most outdoor utilizes,” said founder and CEO Eric Lekuch. “It’s kind of wasteful, and ours is seamless in that it can edit on the fly, it can be real time, there’s no real waste involved and production costs are pretty minimal.”

Lekuch said the idea to partner with taxis in D.C. came about three years ago, when ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft started to take hold across the region. With many cab drivers and companies investing in electric cars, he said they wanted to find new revenue streams to make up for the lost income.

“They’re telling us how much they’re losing every week and every month and in any given year due to increased competition,” Lekuch said. “So we’re helping bite into that.”

A SIM card loaded in each advertising box has internet access, meaning updates can be made in real time. So, Lekuch said, perhaps an advertising partner like one of the local lotteries, theaters or arenas could change information with ease.

He said it could also be helpful with governmental partners, who could advertise the likes of amber alerts or other public safety announcements quickly and easily.

And in addition to the real-time updates, the SIM card keeps constant track of its coordinates as the cab drives around. Lekuch said it can be programmed in such a way that when a taxi enters a certain neighborhood or part of town, the display changes and could advertise something specific to that area. Lekuch described that service as a “premium add-on.”

“There’s definitely an interest if you want to target, maybe by Capital One Arena or Navy Yard, there’s always an interest if someone only has one store or one restaurant and want it to appear if you’re in [that neighborhood],” he said.

To test the technology, ABMG made use of contacts in the startup community before sending the advertising boxes out on the street. Lekuch said he received plenty of positive feedback already from Arlington.

“We have a lot of friends in the startup industry,” he said. “They’d send us some content and once it hits Wilson Blvd. or Courthouse, or the Ballston corridor, an ad will appear. It was cool to test that, and it works and we can do that, but also to meet more readers of ARLnow in an environment where you’re not really expecting it.”

Lekuch said he is hopeful of ABMG getting a foothold in the D.C. area before possibly expanding to other cities.

Photos via Above and Beyond Media Group

by Chris Teale October 9, 2017 at 12:00 pm 0

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

After more than 15 years spent improving help people’s health, local resident Eifer Lyddane noticed a gap in corporate wellness programs.

“What’s interesting is a lot of these companies have wellness programs, but most of these wellness programs are, for lack of a better word, old school,” she said. “They are traditional programs that are biometric screening, hydration challenges, fitness challenges.”

And, Lyddane said, those programs don’t tend to get employees too excited to work on their health and wellbeing.

“The problem with all that is it doesn’t really engage their employees at a high level,” she said. “In fact, most of the companies I’ve talked to get about a 10 percent employee engagement, which I think is extremely low.”

So to freshen things up, Lyddane founded In Good Company Wellness a year and a half ago. The startup goes into businesses like IT companies and law firms, customizes a wellness program for employees and then implements it.

Lyddane said programs can include guidance on nutrition, farm-to-table catering, meditation, talks and workshops on wellness, or yoga and other fitness-based activities. Programs are typically scheduled to happen on a regular basis — usually each month or each week — but In Good Company offers one-off programs too.

The company also just launched a podcast on mindfulness, where “mindfulness guru” Hugh Byrne interviews entrepreneurs who are having an impact on the local community.

One such program is a rooftop yoga class at the Watergate Hotel in D.C. in partnership with meditation studio Recharj. Lyddane said programs like that, which are consistent and offer people a chance to decompress and take some time for themselves are of great help.

“Our real goal is to go into these companies and really add that wellness piece that engages employees and helps them figure out what to do with stress and anxiety, and offer it at lunchtime, before work, after work,” Lyddane said. “It also helps with interactions with their colleagues and clients as well.”

And having worked with around 30 businesses already, including national and global companies that take advantage of online content like webinars, Lyddane said employers have noticed a difference already in their employees.

“After six months, it’s interesting to see the change in the culture of the organization just from that wellness element,” she said. “Their interactions with each other, they’re not as stressed. It’s almost like the culture is more laid back, and is not as harried and hectic.”

Employees, meanwhile, are embracing the programs being offered, especially as it allows them to escape their stressful work lives.

“You think about it, people come to work, they’ve already been in traffic for an hour or an hour and a half and they’re stressed when they get there and they’re thinking about the future and getting things done,” Lyddane said. “It’s just a way of taking time for themselves in the workplace, and it shows that their employer really cares about them and their wellbeing. It’s been very well received.”

Photos via In Good Company Wellness.

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